INDIAN AIR CARGO SUPPLEMENT~ A mighty big task for the Airports Authority

While innumerable problems remain, India's Airports Authority is pushing ahead with modernisation, expansion and privatisation efforts in a desperate bid to get the infrastructure in shape.

"Infrastructure is the key challenge before us today."These words, starkly spoken, succinctly summed up the sentiments of delegates attending the Indian Air Cargo event. But they resonated ever more clearly because they were uttered by Airports Authority of India (AAI) executive director for infrastructure development, V. K. Kalra.

The task of the AAI is hardly trivial: India has 449 airports, a number that continues to grow, including 16 international airports and seven customs airports. In all, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) manages 128 of these.

In the last four years domestic passenger traffic has surged, growing over 25 per cent while cargo has grown 10 per cent. Long term the AAI is forecasting an 8-10 per cent growth in passenger traffic and a 7-9 per cent cargo growth, according to Kalra.

The problems are numerous he notes, highlighting among others, inadequate runways, parking and terminal capacity virtually across the country. Nearly 40 per cent of passenger traffic is concentrated at Delhi and Mumbai with the top five airportscarrying 70 per cent of the traffic.

Expansion and modernisation

But Kalra highlighted that the AAI is taking steps to decongest the airports along with expansion and modernisation of existing airports.